April 5, 2012
Wooly Mammoth Found In Siberia Is Remarkably Well Preserved
A young, entombed Wooly Mammoth has been discovered in Siberia near the Arctic Ocean. Nicknamed “Yuka," the mammoth has been described by discoverers as being “remarkably well preserved” despite being cut open by ancient people.
Yuka was discovered in Siberia during an expedition funded in part by the BBC and the Discovery Channel and is believed to be at least 10,000 years old. The discoverers believe this finding could possibly provide proof of early human interaction in the Siberian region.
Yuka remains in excellent condition, thanks to the freezing cold temperatures of Siberia. In fact, much of the meat is still intact, retaining a pink color. Strawberry blond hair covers the mammoth. Daniel Fisher, curator and director of the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology told Discovery News, “This is the first relatively complete mammoth carcass – that is, a body with soft tissues preserved – to show evidence of human association.”
Working with an international team of experts, Fisher will help to analyze Yuka and to retrieve genetic samples from the carcass.
The team is also conducted carbon dating on Yuka, but believe the mammoth to have died at least 10,000 years ago. They believe the mammoth to have been about 2 1/2 to 4 years old when it died.
Judging from wounds found on the mammoth and other cuts and breaks, the team believe Yuka may have fallen prey to lions before humans came along to finish the job.
“It appears that Yuka was pursued by one or more lions or another large field, judging from deep, unhealed scratches in the hide and bite marks on the tail,” Fisher said. “Yuka then apparently fell, breaking one of the lower hind legs. At this point, humans may have moved in to control the carcass, butchering much of the animal and removing parts that they would use immediately. They may, in fact, have reburied the rest of the carcass to keep it in reserve for possible later use. What remains now would then be ℠leftovers´ that were never retrieved.”
While most of Yuka´s innards are missing, such as organs, ribs, vertebrae, and some meat, the lower parts of each leg and the trunk remain incredibly well preserved.
French mammoth hunter Bernard Beigues is also part of the international team, and suggests the humans may have been after Yuka´s fat and large bones. He believes the bones may have been used in rituals and therefore were kept close to the body.
Such discoveries will enable scientists to study the genetics of these animals. For example, the discovery of Yuka has confirmed an earlier assumption about mammoths´ hair color. The red hair found all over Yuka proves this theory, as well as provides information about the genetic codes of the mammoth as it pertains to hair and eye color. With such a wealth of genetic material to investigate, scientists suggest cloning is possible, bringing the mammoths back from extinction. Tim Walker, a director and producer for the Discovery Channel told Discovery news that cloning a mammoth could take years, even decades. Yuka will be a part of a new documentary produced by the BBC and the Discovery Channel called “Mammoth.”